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NYS Parent Guide

48-60 Months: Growth and Development

You and Your Fabulous Four-Year-Old

Parenting at This Stage

Parenting at This Stage

“Energetic,” “imaginative,” “social” and sometimes “impatient” describes a four-year-old. Typically, four-year-olds feel good about what they can do and want to explore new ideas.

Sometimes they try things that they can’t yet do. Your job is to encourage your child’s desire for exploring and learning within safe, secure and reasonable boundaries. To help her get ready for school, you may choose to have her attend a preschool for four year olds, such as free programs like Universal Pre- Kindergarten or Head Start.

Remember there will be other teachers in her life, you remain her first, most important and forever teacher. To find out about what preschool opportunities are in your community will take some time and you should feel very comfortable to ask to observe any program you are interested in.

As a parent of a four-year-old, you may:

  • Feel some deserved pride and amazement at what your four year old has become!
  • Experience a little sadness or discomfort when your four year old becomes attached to someone else and even expresses preference to be with that person
  • Wonder about your child’s readiness for school and what you need to do to help him prepare
  • Wonder about your own readiness to have your child enter school and how that may change both your lives
  • Find your conversations with your four year old quite entertaining and informative
  • Be surprised (both good and bad) at some of your four-year-old’s thinking!
  • Find it difficult to not always “step in and referee” when your child gets into conflict with another peer or sibling
  • Feel uncertain about your role as “first teacher” if your child is attending a preschool program. Remember, you are still the most important influence on your child.

Useful Resources:

Find a Head Start Program in your community

For eligible three and four year olds, there are Head Start programs throughout the state. Find one in your community:


NYS Universal Pre-kindergarten

Call your local school district or visit their website to learn more.

Private Pre-school

Find listings in your local phone directory under nursery school or pre-school.

additional resources My E-Journal

Did you know

If you have a concern about your child’s development, your local school district has a Committee on Preschool Special Education who can coordinate services for your child through preschool special education. Go to: